Choosing a career is an important decision students and parents need to make. We have all heard people say ‘follow your dreams’ but what if parents are the ones preventing you from following your dreams?
This is the story of Rohit Das (name changed). We studied together in junior college and later he got into Engineering, as his father wanted him to be a Mechanical Engineer. Although he was never interested in pursuing Engineering, being the ideal, responsible son he never confronted his father about his dislike for the subject. First year into college, a few backlogs in the first semester, few more in the second one resulted in an overall Year Down. Next year same scenario – few backlogs but somehow managed to pass the First year of Engineering. Second Year into Mechanical Engineering and history repeated – one more Year Down. You can imagine the kind of pressure he must have been through. He had completely lost confidence and had started considering himself worthless.
However, during these 4 years, he had been actively doing a lot of Volunteer work, hosting and managing a lot of different events. Something which he really enjoyed and that made him happy. But his father disapproved of all these and sometimes even house arrested him. However, he did not say anything to anyone. By this time all his batchmates had already completed graduation and some had started doing their masters or got into jobs. He felt left out.
Four years into all this, and then one day the built up frustration and pressure just blew off steam. He got into an argument with his parents and gave up engineering. His parents did not understand and were not at all supportive. In fact they turned a blind eye to his failure in Engineering college. They made a deal with him that he had to prove to them that doing Business was where his passion was. To validate his belief he took an Aptitude, Interest and Personality Test. And within two months he was in the UK pursuing Bachelors in Business with Entrepreneurship. Today when he compares himself to his peers he can’t stop thinking that all of them have completed their Masters, have started earning and moved on in life and he is still in the First year of graduation!
Let us sit back and analyze this situation. The parents own an auto motor company and therefore wanted their son to be an Engineer. By enrolling him in an education that Rohit disliked, they wasted a lot of money over fees (we all know how high the Engineering college fees are), leading to a lot of stress and mental pressure for everyone, loss of self-confidence and the list goes on. Alternatively, if his parents had communicated with him in the beginning, listened to what their son wanted instead of forcing their decision, things would have been different. Potentially, today they would have an open channel of communication and shared a healthier parent-child relationship.
So how can parents and children have a healthy relationship is the question. Parents need to sit down and have an open conversation with their children right from the early days, they should willingly listen to their child’s thoughts and ideas. Communicating through discussions and consultation will lead to better outcomes than forcing one’s opinions and lecturing kids. Parents also need to be observant about their child’s likes and dislikes, interests, talents, strengths, weaknesses etc right from early childhood. Having an open channel of communication, a safe and supportive environment will encourage the teen to share the stresses that he/she might be undergoing, thus encouraging dialogue and possible solutions.
So, should parents select a career for their child or should children themselves decide what they want to pursue?
Every parent dreams of a successful career which offers stability, job security and economic independence for their offspring. Parents want their children to follow them or select something similar to what they have done or wanted to do.
In India, Engineering, Medicine, and Civil services are careers which are considered to be secure and prestigious by most parents. However, times are changing, Engineering/ Medicine no longer seem to be the chosen careers offering high paying jobs. It is difficult to get into government services with the growing competition. Newer career options are emerging with changing technology.
In such a scenario, it is important that parents facilitate the process of career selection by equipping their child with the requisite knowledge and skills, being self-confident and trusting that he/she will take the right decisions. When parents make all the decisions for their children, they send a signal that “you are no good” and children develop lower self-confidence and self-esteem. As a result, children may not be happy with what they are doing resulting in underperformance which might in turn restrict them to excel in their personal and professional life. Over time this can lead to depression and may lead to some students to committing suicide. Parents should support their children and give them direction but not force them to pursue something their children are not interested in. In turn, the children should communicate openly with their parents understanding that it is concern for their well-being that drives parents to be protective and autocratic.
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